McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Affiliated Faculty Member Receives Rare Honor
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the governing body over its Games the same as the International Olympic Committee for its Winter and Summer Olympics, on May 4 in Bonn, Germany, recently announced that it is bestowing an honor for the first time to an American researcher who also is a former Paralympics medalist.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Rory Cooper, PhD, founding director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) at the University of Pittsburgh and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is scheduled to receive the IPC’s 2013 Paralympic Scientific Award at its VISTA 2013 conference about equipment and technology in Paralympic sports – one of Dr. Cooper’s areas of expertise.
IPC Chief Executive Officer Xavier Gonzalez, in his letter announcing the selection of Dr. Cooper for the honor conferred every 2 years since 2005, said it was “in recognition of [his] outstanding contribution to the Paralympic movement.”
“The Paralympics have been an important aspect of my life for more than 30 years,” Dr. Cooper said. “Receiving this award parallels my participation in the 1988 Paralympic Games. I credit my involvement with the Paralympic Movement as a significant contributor to making my life and professional career as rewarding as it has been.”
A U.S. Army veteran with a spinal cord injury, Dr. Cooper was a bronze medalist at the 1988 Seoul Paralympics in wheelchair relay racing and continues to compete, winning five golds in swimming at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games last summer. He is internationally renowned for his expertise in assistive technology, wheelchairs, and the Wounded Warrior Project, along with his contributions to research and science in those fields.
Dr. Cooper is a U.S Department of Veteran Affairs Career Scientist and the founding director at HERL, a VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence in partnership with Pitt. Also, he serves as co-director of the National Science Foundation Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center, a joint Pitt-Carnegie Mellon University effort.
He is a distinguished professor and FISA-Paralyzed Veterans of America Chair in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, the Pitt School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. He holds secondary appointments as a professor of bioengineering, mechanical engineering, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and orthopaedic surgery at Pitt. He also shared his story to contribute to a fictional character in a recent novel, “The Book Lover.”